Today, it is a well known fact in the IT industry that web applications are not perfect and that they do fail. The developers face problems such as the code getting discordant; unexpectedly long bug reports; or the time spent in keeping up the project exceeding the ability to add features to it. While this situation is slowly creeping in, the developers are bound to think of either rehabilitating the code or scraping the old code completely and rebuilding it from scratch.
Let’s have a look at the ways of fixing or rescuing such failing projects.
In spite of great planning and putting in all the hard work a web application project may fail. The developers have already written code that does not serve any concrete functionality leading to substandard code quality with redundant or unnecessary frameworks. The main reason behind such failure is fundamental architectural mistakes, where the framework fails to support what you are trying to build.
In such cases one positive step ahead would be to hire a fresh team of experienced developers and hope that they would be able to rescue the dying project.
The other step would be to re-factor the existing code. This process mainly involves returning to the initial requirements; understand the requirements, and then reviewing the code to check if it is meeting the requirements. If problems exist with the code a good idea would be making incremental fixes and adding an enhancement each time the code needs work.
There are two scenarios to be considered:
a) Internal Project: If it’s a project that is purely internal there are better chances of sticking with the project code rather than entirely scrapping it. But if the web project is going to be used by a million people, then slight changes can certainly make big differences as far as cost is concerned.
b) External Project: If the web project is leading to a bad user experience or incurring exorbitant costs, then the wiser decision would be to start afresh.
2. Re-Build a Strong Architecture
Only a strong architecture can accomplish the ultimate goal of building a successful web app project. There is a need to get inputs from all involved stakeholders. There should be one person from the management who would be accountable to drive the vision to avoid bad architecture right from the foundation stage of designing. With the new design plan in place, you can look at the code with a new vision and prioritize how to fix the original mess. When the architecture is strong and flawless you can build successful projects.
3. Throw away
Many times web projects are left unfinished due to reasons such as developer not returning to the project or quitting the project, or the code does not work under all circumstances or at times does not work at all, or the project was finished but did not have a maintenance plan in place and is now failing or few features being implemented and the rest of them pending.
One great plan for this kind of a contingency is to cross-train the team and to ensure that not just a single person but more people in the team understand the source code. Another plan is to switch the developers and make them work on different functionalities of the web project so that each person is aware what the other is doing.
Assign the responsibility of fixing issues with the code to a different person rather than the one who developed it. This practice gives a different and fresh perspective of examining the source code and fixing associated issues. As a rule of thumb involve multiple but an appropriate number of developers on the project to reduce risks of single developer’s accountability for the code.
4. Inflated makeover costs
The failing projects makeover costs are bound to be exorbitant. The architecture had issues and spending cash did not solve the problems. One way of controlling spends on such projects is to prioritize what is of utmost importance and necessary and what is urgent.
In many cases, outsourcing is the only solution to fix the issues, but developers the risk of errors increases if the software’s purpose and functionality is not communicated or transitioned to the new team properly. The result being the firm spends lot of money on outsourcing without knowing that there is an internal issue of transitioning.
It is important to have program managers who can be transparent and communicate across all the groups to ensure that only the correct functionality is being created.
How does one know when it is time to scrap the entire project? Or Stick to your code and just focus on eliminating the bugs. It is intimidating for developers to throw out the old code and start writing new code. But it is the project manager’s duty to communicate it effectively across the teams.
But throwing a system immediately isn’t usually a viable option. Mainly because there are lot of legacy devices and platforms associated with the project that may take time to transition and function correctly after the transition is successful. Instead, build an optimized model that is not one-size that fits all.
6. New Structure
Any new structure always requires some time to adjust or settle. So firstly, decide on the minimum viable product and focus on it. In this process also find out what can wait. Besides, create a list of all other items that will need attention and work accordingly. Introduce relevant metrics in order to regularly assess the health of the web project. If the current model is faulty then it is time to create a better or a stronger and healthier project utilizing the metrics which are showing the weakness of the project.
The architecture of the web app project may be good, but there may be issues with the procedure of building the system which are now obsolete. The technology may be old so not many developers available with that kind of skill who can support it. So is it time to rebuild or Scrap?
Create the platform correctly, and develop a process which makes it easy for adding new features. Hiring consultants is typically a bad choice in this case in order to fix an internal tool in need of new features. If the tool is linked or dependent on other systems, the newly hired consultants won’t have the internal picture in the outcome.
There is no single formula to build a perfect web application, but failures can certainly be reduced if not completely avoided. The difficulty lies not just in identifying the reasons of failure, but in approaching the mistakes with corrective measures and techniques.
It is very important to obtain the necessary inputs from all the stakeholders involved in the project. The management has to drive the vision, be transparent, and have effective communication across the team else the software design is bound to suffer.
It is finally the decision of the management whether to take up the challenge of correcting the existing web application or to scrap out the old one and build a new web application all together as there is no thumb rule that can take care of that decision.
A few critical factors leading to the success of any web application are a good grasp and clear understanding of initial requirements, strong planning, and flawless architecture, performance analysis in the early and later stages of the project to anticipate issues and avoid outages or major failures.